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Séamus Boland,
President of the Diversity Europe Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

Mr. Séamus Boland has been a Member of the EESC since 2011. He was elected President of the Diversity Europe Group in October 2020. He is Chief Executive Officer of Irish Rural Link and Member of the Community and Voluntary Pillar. He is chairperson of Pobal, an organisation committed to community support and development. Mr. Séamus Boland is also chair of the Irish Peatlands Council. Its role is to achieve the objectives set out by the EU Habitat's Directive which requires Ireland to protect and conserve important Peat-lands habitats. He previously worked with young people and people with disability. He holds a degree in Community and Rural Development and was educated as a Speech and Drama Teacher.

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge,
WHO Regional Director for Europe

Dr Kluge began his term as WHO Regional Director for Europe on 1 February 2020, following appointment by the WHO Executive Board. He has 25 years of experience in medical practice and public health in numerous settings around the world. Having qualified in medicine, surgery and obstetrics from the Catholic University of Leuven in 1994, he began his career as a family doctor in Belgium. On assignment with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Belgium from 1995, his international experience started in Liberia, Somalia, and Russia, coordinating public health control programmes. Dr Kluge joined WHO in 1999 and moved to the Regional Office for Europe in 2009 to lead a new vision on health systems for prosperity and solidarity; drove work on universal health coverage and financial protection; prioritized a focus on service delivery; and built strong partnerships on health system performance and reforms with the European Commission, OECD, World Bank, GAVI, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, civil society and donors.

Brikena Xhomaqi,
Co-chair of the EESC Liaison Group of Civil Society and Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform

Brikena Xhomaqi is the current Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform – European Civil Society for Education (former EUCIS-LLL). It represents over 40 European wide civil society networks in the field of education from early childhood to adult education, including formal, non-formal and informal learning providers and learners. She is a member of the Civil Society Europe Steering Committee since 2017 and the Advisory Board member of Association Hub Belgium. She is the former Head of Office of the European Students’ Union (ESU) and Director of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). She was active in civil society from early ages as an elected representative of different school and university student bodies. In 2010 she joined the civil society at European level initially as elected representative of the European Students’ Union in charge of social affairs, later on, she specialised on student mobility issues in particular inclusiveness of mobility programmes but also issues related to social inclusion and labour market integration of young people as well as their participation.


Michael O'Flaherty,
Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

Michael O’Flaherty is Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights since 2015. He is a former Professor of Human Rights at the University of Nottingham and the National University of Ireland, Galway. From 2004 to 2012 he was a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, latterly as Vice-Chair. Mr O’Flaherty has held a variety of other positions at the United Nations, both at headquarters and in the field, in which connection he witnessed, reported on, and sought to mitigate human rights abuses in such places as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sierra Leone. He has also served as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, as Chairperson of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, and as Vice-Chair of the Universal Rights Group. A solicitor of the Irish Courts, O’Flaherty received his Doctor of Laws from the National University of Ireland and holds degrees in international relations, philosophy, and theology.

John Ryan,
Director for Public Health, DG Health and Food Safety, European Commission

John F. Ryan is Director of the Commission Public Health directorate since September 2016. Previously, in the same department, he was the Head of Unit responsible for a number of public health policy areas (cancer, drugs, promotion, monitoring, infectious diseases). He was a Commission representative on the Board of the EU Lisbon Drugs Agency, and is currently the Commission representative on the Board of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, also had the charge of dealing with tobacco control issues. Current priorities include the development of an EU cancer plan, antimicrobial resistance, vaccination policies, and the negotiation of financial instruments to support health, including research. He has previously worked on the completion of the internal market, and on international trade negotiations. He is also an official of the Irish civil service (on leave) and fellow of the UK faculty of public health.

Valentina Tageo,
Founder and Director of Wise Angle Consulting

Valentina Tageo graduated in Economics, obtained a Master in European Project Management and she is currently a MSc candidate in Population Health Sciences. She has multiannual experience in international project management and proposal writing. She has been working as Research Project Manager and providing consultancy services for different healthcare, research, industry and non-profit organizations. Her fields of interest are digital health and care, social innovation and digital transformation of public services with a focus on smart, liveable and healthy cities. At ECHAlliance she is the International Projects Director since 2018. Since February 2021 she is also a Board Director of the Digital Health Society. Currently, she is the project manager of the H2020 MULTI-ACT project, Lead Expert for the Urban Innovation Actions project GAVIUS; as well dissemination manager for the H2020 ALAMEDA and the IMI2 Gravitate-Health projects. In 2018 Valentina founded Wise Angle which has been recently contracted by EESC to carry out two studies on “How the Digital Transformation can put humans at the centre of robotics and automation” and “The response of CSOs to the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Carina Dantas,
CEO of SHINE 2Europe & authors of the EESC study requested by the Diversity Europe Group

Carina Dantas is CEO of SHINE 2Europe with over 20 years-experience in health and social care. She is the Chair of the COST Action NET4Age-Friendly, Coordinator of the Stakeholders Network on SHAFE - Smart Healthy Age-friendly Environments and the Portuguese Network on SHAFE, Vice-President of the European Covenant on Demographic Change and Main Coordinator of group D4 of the EIP-AHA. She is reviewer for the Commission, Eureka, AAL and EIT Digital; member of the Expert Team developing the EU Ethics framework for the ICT Profession, as external expert for CEN/CENELEC; and Team Leader of the group of experts designing the Reference Guidelines in the Field of Ethics, Data Privacy and Security, contracted by the AAL Programme. Also, Senior International Project Manager for the ECHAlliance, management team member of The Digital Health Society, member of the Standing Committee on Policy and Advocacy of the International Health Literacy Association, the Advisory Board of Homes4life and reviewer of ICF Journal and MDPI. She has written over 200 proposals for funded projects and managed several of them for different programs.

Miguel Ángel Cabra de Luna,
Secretary General of the Spanish Platform of the Elderly and Pensioners (PMP) and Member of the Diversity Europe Group of the EESC

Miguel Ángel Cabra de Luna holds a Doctorate in Juridical Science (University of Granada) and a degree in Business and Administration Program (University of Navarra, in association with Harvard University). He also holds a National Defense Diploma from the Spanish Centre for National Defense Studies. He has been Secretary General of the Spanish Red Cross and has held several high ranking positions in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. He is currently Director of Alliances, Social and International Relations of ONCE Foundation and Secretary General of the Platform of Older People and Pensioners (PMP), and also member/representative of many national and European organisations: the CEPES, the EESC, the SEE and the EFC. He has published many books together with other experts as well as numerous scientific articles on issues related to Social Economy, Foundations and Non-Profit Organizations.

Ebbe Johansen,
President of Age Platform Europe

Mr. Ebbe Johansen, MSc. HD, Denmark, is President of Age Platform Europe and board member in DaneAge. He is chairman for the local DaneAge organisation. He has a long managerial experience and has worked in several countries. He has been manager in IBM Nordic Education Centre for 4 years. Mr. Johansen has a degree in Civil Engineering from Technical University of Denmark and a degree in Organization and Management from Copenhagen Business School.

Patrik Schröder,
President of the Swedish National Forum for Voluntary Organizations and Strategic Adviser for Save the Children Sweden

Patrik Schröder has a long experience from work with civil society in leading positions. Currently he is the president of the National Forum for Voluntary Organizations. Forum is an umbrella for civil society organizations working in the social sphere. Joining Save the Children Sweden in 2013, he has worked with advocacy, strategy and organizational development in different positions, strategic advisor to the domestic program, the Secretary General and COO. In 2015 he was the National Response Team Leader with responsibility for building rapid capacity as Save the Children assisted in welcoming the 70 000 unaccompanied minors that arrived during just a few months. Patrik was the Secretary General/CEO for YMCA-YWCA Sweden with the overall responsible for the management and development of the organization. Since 2005, he has participated in seven OSSE and EU election observation missions as a short time observer. His professional career started with the National Youth Council and responsibility for advocacy on national, European and global level. Patrik holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Gothenburg.

Andrea Najvirtova,
Winner of the 2020 EESC Civil Solidarity Prize on 'Civil Society against COVID-19' and Executive Director of 'People in Need Slovakia'

Andrea Najvirtova is Executive Director of the NGO People in Need Slovakia (PIN Slovakia) and was part of the organization’s team heading the response to Covid-19 in Slovakia. She is also member of the presidency of the Slovak Platform for Development Organizations Ambrela. From 2017 to 2019, she led PIN Slovakia’s department for humanitarian aid and development cooperation. Prior to that, she spent 10 years in the Balkans working for various civil society organizations and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo. Her work focused on advancing minorities’ participation, education and language rights, as well as inter-ethnic relations. She holds a Masters' Degree in International Development from the University of Vienna and in International Business Administration from the Vienna University of Economics and Business. She speaks fluent Slovak, German, English, French, Serbian and Albanian and can also communicate in Russian.

Annemie Drieskens,
Winner of the 2020 EESC Civil Solidarity Prize on 'Civil Society against COVID-19' and President of COFACE Families Europe

Annemie Drieskens is President of Coface Families Europe since 2012, the European Network of Family Organisations in the European Union. In this period Coface worked on the social and family policy with a specific focus on the topic of work life balance, the adoption of the Work Life Balance Directive, and focused on the needs of all families especially on those in vulnerable situations in Europe and beyond. In 2014 Coface gained the UN consultative status.

Annemie Drieskens holds a Law degree from The University of Leuven. As president of Coface Families Europe and Board member of Gezinsbond, the League of families in Flanders, she has expertise in social and family policy and participates actively in the organization of numerous Coface conferences and meetings advocating for a strong social Europe. She represents Coface in a wide variety of discussions with the European Institutions and with other stakeholders. She is also member of advisory boards of Horizon 2020 research projects to bring in the family perspective in different fields.

Carlotta Besozzi,
Coordinator of Civil Society Europe - overview of the report 'Participation of Civil Society Organisations in the Preparation of EU National Recovery and Resilience Plans'

Carlotta Besozzi is the Coordinator of Civil Society Europe, a wide network of European Platforms of associations and NGOs representing different sectors within civil society such as human rights, environment, international cooperation, social inclusion, culture, education, health, civic rights, transparency, and active on promoting an enabling civic space in Europe. She holds a degree in Philosophy at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She has worked most of her career in the civil society sector after a few years at the European Parliament as a Political and Research Parliamentary Assistant. Previous to being the Coordinator of Civil Society Europe, she has been the Director of the European Disability Forum for a decade.

Jan Mayrhofer,
Senior Policy Officer at the European Youth Forum - overview of the report 'Escaping the Growth and Jobs Treadmill – a new policy agenda for post Coronavirus Europe'

Jan is leading the European Youth Forum’s work on economic transition and the climate crisis, coordinating the actions of over 100 member organisations across Europe. His work involves organising and conducting capacity-building workshops as well as policy writing and advocacy towards the EU institutions and the UN on sustainability- and climate-related topics. He previously held positions in both the private sector and environmental think tanks and NGOs in Brussels, Berlin and Delhi as well as consulting for Oxfam International on inequality and environmental policy. Jan has published articles on climate policy in various outlets and peer-reviewed academic journals. He holds an honours degree in International Development Studies Research from University of Amsterdam.

Bruno Ribeiro Barata,
EPSCO Counsellor for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU

Bruno Ribeiro Barata holds a degree in Economics at Lusíada University from Lisbon, a Public Management Training Program (FORGEP) at the National Institute of Administration.

He served as deputy to the Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security with the following responsibilities: Liaison with the OECD and the European Commission; National Social Security Budget; Political monitoring of Social Dialogue; development of Public Policies to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. Also worked as Head of the Office of the Secretary of State for Internal Affairs; Director of Planning and Management Services at Camões, Institute for Cooperation and Language - Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Head of the Financial Area of the Financial Administration, Property and Security Unit of the Judicial Police. Bruno has also held positions at the Institute for Social Reintegration and in the ranks of the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, namely at the Family Allowance Fund for Bank Employees and at the National Centre for the Protection against Professional Risks.